Giulietta Masina

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Giulietta Masina
Masinanightsofcabiria.jpg
Masina in Nights of Cabiria, 1957
Born Giulia Anna Masina
(1921-02-22)22 February 1921
San Giorgio di Piano, Italy
Died 23 March 1994(1994-03-23) (aged 73)
Rome, Italy
Occupation Actress
Years active 1942–1991
Spouse(s) Federico Fellini (1943–1993; his death)

Giulietta Masina (22 February 1921 – 23 March 1994) was an Italian film actress, best known for her performances of Gelsomina in La Strada (1954) and Cabiria in Nights of Cabiria (1957). Both films won Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and were described by their director Federico Fellini as having been "inspired" by Masina's "humanity."[1]

Italian cinema historian Peter Bondanella described Masina's work as "masterful" and "unforgettable,"[2] and Charlie Chaplin, with whose work Masina's is often compared,[3][4][5] called her "the actress who moved him most."

Life

Giulia Anna Masina, the oldest of four children, was born in San Giorgio di Piano, near Bologna. Her father was a violinist and her mother was a schoolteacher. When Masina was four, her uncle took her to meet the Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello, who was later to win the Nobel Prize in literature. A few years later, when this uncle passed away, his widow, Masina's aunt, asked Masina's parents if they would allow her to come to Rome to stay with her. Masina's parents agreed, in part because they believed that in Rome Masina would have more success in the arts, for which she was already demonstrating a unique talent.[6]

Masina attended an Ursuline convent school and took lessons in voice, piano, and dance. Her first experiences acting took place during World War II as part of the theater section of Rome's Gruppi Universitari Fascisti, a state-sponsored but university-student-led arts organization. She graduated with a degree in Literature from Sapienza University of Rome. She began to work as a voice actress on radio during the war, which earned her more money and attention than stage acting. It was as a radio artist that Masina met Federico Fellini, a radio show screenwriter. They married in 1943, and a few months later Masina suffered a miscarriage after falling down a flight of stairs. In 1944, she became pregnant again; Pierfederico (nicknamed Federichino) was born on 22 March 1945 but died from encephalitis a month later. Masina and Fellini had no other children.[7]

Death

Masina died from cancer on 23 March 1994 at age 73, five months after her husband's death on 31 October 1993.[8] For her funeral, she requested that trumpeter Mauro Maur play "La Strada" by Nino Rota,[9] a poignant leitmotif from the film. She and Fellini are buried together at Rimini cemetery in a tomb marked by a prow-shaped monument, the work of sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro.

Career

Masina in La Strada, 1954

Working together with her husband, Masina made the transition to on-screen acting.[10] Half of her Italian films, the most successful ones, were either written or directed by her husband. Masina made her film debut in an uncredited role in Rossellini's Paisà (1946), credit for the script being given to Fellini. She received her first screen credit in Lattuada's Without Pity (1948), which was another adaptation by Fellini and played opposite John Kitzmiller.[citation needed]

In 1954, she starred with Anthony Quinn in Fellini's La Strada, playing the abused stooge of Quinn's travelling circus strongman. In 1957, she won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of the title role in Fellini's Nights of Cabiria. She played a prostitute who endures life's tragedies and disappointments with both innocence and resilience. In 1960, Masina's career was damaged by the critical and box office failure of The High Life. Subsequently, she became dedicated almost entirely to her personal life and marriage. Nonetheless, she again worked with Fellini in Juliet of the Spirits (1965), which earned both the New York Film Critics award (1965) and the Golden Globe award (1966) for Best Foreign Language Film.[citation needed]

In 1969, Masina did her first work in English in The Madwoman of Chaillot, which starred Katharine Hepburn. After almost two decades, during which she worked sporadically only in television, Masina appeared in Fellini's Ginger and Fred (1986). She then rejected outside offers in order to attend to her husband's precarious health. Her last film was Jean-Louis Bertucelli's A Day to Remember (1991). In the late 1960s, Masina hosted a popular radio show, Lettere aperte, in which she addressed correspondence from her listeners. The letters were eventually published in a book. From the 1970s on, she appeared on television. Two performances, in Eleonora (1973) and Camilla (1976), respectively, were particularly acclaimed.[citation needed]

Masina is often referred to favorably as Fellini's "muse," which is a term, however, that feminist scholars have argued can eclipse consideration of women's roles as thinkers and artists in their own right.[11] A recent critic has suggested that "perhaps the time has come for the field of Fellini studies to properly reassess [Masina's] creative role in the making of some of her husband's masterpieces."[12]

Awards

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1946 Paisan Young woman (debut, uncredited)
1948 Without Pity Marcella
1951 Behind Closed Shutters Pippo
Variety Lights Melina Amour
Seven Hours of Trouble Figlia de Romolini
Position Wanted Paola
Cameriera bella presenza offresi... Ermelinda
1952 The Shameless Sex Nadina
The White Sheik Cabiria
Europa '51 Giulietta
1953 At the Edge of the City Gina Ilari
1954 La Strada Gelsomina
100 Years of Love The Neighbour at the Rear Window
Angels of Darkness Rosita
1955 Il bidone Iris
1957 Nights of Cabiria Maria Cabiria Ceccarelli
1958 Fortunella Nanda Diotallevi aka Fortunella
1959 Nella città l'inferno Lina
...and the Wild Wild Women Erdme
1960 The High Life Doris Putzke
1965 Juliet of the Spirits Giulietta Boldrini
1969 The Madwoman of Chaillot Gabrielle
1985 The Feather Fairy Perinbaba
1986 Ginger and Fred Amelia Bonetti "Ginger"
1991 A Day to Remember Bertille Final Film Role

References

  1. ^ Fellini, Federico (1978). "My Experiences as a Director". In Bondanella, Peter. Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 7.
  2. ^ Bondanella, Peter (2009). A History of Italian Cinema. New York: Continuum. pp. 148, 151. ISBN 9780826417855.
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "The Screen: 'Cabiria'; Giulietta Masina Stars in Italian Import".
  4. ^ Masina reference, filmsdefrance.com; accessed 19 October 2018.
  5. ^ Reference to Masina, filmbug.com; accessed 19 October 2018.
  6. ^ Kezich, Tullio (1991). Giulietta Masina. Bologna: Cappelli. p. 22.
  7. ^ Information on miscarriage and death from encephalitis cited in Tullio Kezich, Fellini: His Life and Work (New York: Faber, 2006), pg. 74.
  8. ^ Cowell, Alan. "Giulietta Masina, Italian Actress Who Inspired Fellini, Dies at 73".
  9. ^ gli amici ricordano Giulietta, archiviostorico.corriere.it; accessed 19 October 2018.
  10. ^ "AllMovie - Movies and Films Database - Movie Search, Ratings, Photos, Recommendations, and Reviews". AllMovie.
  11. ^ Allen, Jeffner; Young, Iris Marion (1989). The Thinking Muse. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0253359805.
  12. ^ Surliuga, Victoria (2016). "Co-Making Federico Fellini: Giulietta Masina's Achievement". Federico Fellini: Riprese, riletture, (re)visioni. Franco Cesati Editore. p. 131. ISBN 8876675523.

External links

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